Although the World Bank has agreed in principle to fund the second phase of the Himachal Pradesh state roads project, it has also expressed concern over the 'alarmingly' slow pace of its implementation. A World Bank team visiting the city met government officials regarding developmental plans. Chief secretary Parthasarathi Mitra also attended the meeting and raised various issues facing the state.
The World Bank had shot off a letter recently to the state government pointing out the slow pace of implementation of the state roads project. A World Bank mission had visited the state in December last year and inspected the project sites The project was started years back in 2007 and the WB pointed out that even after seven years and after 96% of the loan had been committed, the physical progress of civil works stood at just 55% and overall disbursement at 60%.
Total loans were Rs 1742 crore ($281.7 million) of which around Rs 1,045 crore ($169.2 million) have been disbursed. The World Bank also attributed the delay to slow progress in the large civil works contracts rebid and awarded last year, accounting for 40% by value of the works. The World Bank mission that was here from December 8 to 13 last year had opined that concerted efforts were required to speed up implementation on the civil works.
The World Bank also stressed upon dealing with issues of improvement in quality, better site management and compliance to environmental and social norms. "These issues should be addressed immediately to speed up implementation and achieve completion of the civil works within the loan closing date," the letter said. It also pointed out that disbursement of loans was falling behind schedule.
However, the World Bank expressed satisfaction over implementation of most of the institutional development activities. "It is heartening to learn that the E-based project management system (PMS) and the road crash database system have been developed and are being implemented," the letter added.
The World Bank team has agreed to fund the second stage of the roads project that includes 447 kilometers of roads and periodical repair of 1,000 km of roads. Expenditure for this face was assessed at Rs 3800 crore. In stage-I 675 km of roads were scheduled to be constructed besides periodical repair of 2,000 km of roads. Earlier, the cost was pegged at Rs 1,365 crore but has now escalated to around Rs 1,750 crore.
Meanwhile, deliberations were held on Wednesday over the Shimla city mobility plan. The municipal corporation has submitted a draft and for more development and a team will be visiting the WB office in New Delhi on February 16. The civic body has prioritized tunneling and ropeways for Shimla.